Inquiry into C.diff outbreak to begin

The first phase of an inquiry into a hospital bug outbreak which claimed 18 lives will get under way today.

Scotland's Health Secretary Nicola Sturgeon ordered the probe into the Clostridium difficile deaths at the Vale of Leven Hospital in Alexandria, West Dunbartonshire, last year.

A total of 55 patients were struck down by the bug between December 2007 and June 2008 and 18 people died.

C.diff was blamed for nine of the deaths and was said to be a contributory factor in the other nine.

The inquiry, chaired by retired judge Lord MacLean, will take place at the Community Central Halls in Maryhill, Glasgow.

He is expected to address the hearing briefly today, and outline its expected timescale.

A minute's silence to remember those patients who died will also be held.

The first set of these hearings is expected to last up to two weeks.

It was announced earlier this year that the probe will also look into the handling of a C.diff outbreak at Ninewells Hospital in Dundee last year.

Five people died during that incident, with the infection killing two patients and contributing to the deaths of three others.